A Typographic Proposal for e-Books

This post uses Greek, but I promise that those who don’t even know a little βιτ of Greek will still understand it if they try!

This is what part of the entry for ἐλπίς (hope) looks like in the Logos version of BDAG (the standard Greek lexicon for NT studies):

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Those highlights I added, and the page number toward the bottom is extra, but basically you have a thick paragraph full of tiered information. You have a sense—the generic hope, expectation, or prospect for something. Then you have example uses.

I have found it helpful when using BDAG to paste its longer entries into Word or OneNote and turn them into bulleted lists. It makes what I’m looking at a lot more clear, and it forces me to ask good questions about what I’m reading. Typography in this case is a major aid to meaning (warning: the typographical choices I made below may reflect my misunderstanding of the meaning in some cases!).

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If my little exercise in typography aids meaning, why didn’t BDAG just lay out its entries like this in the first place? Obviously, there wouldn’t be enough space. Such a book would be unbelievably massive (see what the ἀγάπη entry would look like here).

But many people (soon most?) now access BDAG through Logos or BibleWorks. There is no longer any good reason for the text to be laid out just as it was in the print version, and I think I have presented one extremely compelling reason for the text to be laid out differently.

I propose that future e-books consider what typography will most benefit readers, even if it differs from the print edition. Logos and BibleWorks should lay out BDAG in the way I have described, and the University of Chicago (which publishes BDAG) should let them.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

4 thoughts on “A Typographic Proposal for e-Books”

  1. Speaking of typology, Mark, I like your new background picture but am finding the gray-on-gray harder on the eyes. Could you make either the text or the background a contrasting color? Thank you.

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